Tuesday, 25 December 2018

And yet there is hope

Several of my recent posts will have perhaps made it fairly obvious that I've been thinking a lot about fear. About the tragedy of a society increasingly dictated by fear, about my own complicity in that culture, about how the beauty of the gospel vision is to stand in opposition to an all-pervasive fear-filled way of living.

The Christmas story, the vulnerability of incarnation is at the heart of that message of daring to overcome fear. Sanitised by kids nativity plays and kitsch decorations, and overwhelmed by the commercialism of our era; the Christmas story remains in reality one of great challenge. Everything about the first Christmas has deep fear inherent within it. A hesitant young mother whose pregnancy doesn't correspond to the social, cultural and religious norms. A vicious occupying regime flexing its muscles. A series of outsiders trying to find a space in an unfamiliar place...

And yet there is hope. All of those fears are overcome, by the presence of deep love. 

Amidst a regime of violent oppression
Where bitter hatred invades the atmosphere
There is hope in the birth of a baby
As God himself comes to live among us here
And humble vulnerability shares the promise
“Know that I am with you, do not fear.”

To the poor on the fringes of society
And the stranger who has journeyed and drawn near
There is hope in the singing of the angels
As dark foreboding skies become clear
And a lone bright star bears the message
“Know that I am with you, do not fear.”

And for those of us who build up walls around us
To protect all the wealth we think that we hold dear
There is hope in the loving and the sharing
As rays of light through chinks in armour yet appear
And if we listen he continues still to whisper
“Know that I am with you, do not fear.”

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Mary's Song

And Mary said, 
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” 
(Luke 1: 46 - 55) 

In my wonderings about an uncertain future
Looking out on a world I’m not sure I understand
In the midst of fears and questions
There is yet a space for praise.

This Spirit, my spirit, 
The depths of my being 
Here where the spirit lives 
Here where the spirit dances 
I rejoice 
A light which flickers but refuses to be extinguished 
A hope which teeters but refuses to give up
A life which dares believe in the eternal 
A life 
Caught once, perhaps, 
In the passing interest of a camera flash 
Then cut adrift 
In the hidden depths of yesterday’s news 
No space for these forgotten ones
In the world’s bright spotlights
Which circle,
Seeking glamour, wealth and fame. 
But here am I, bathed in light 
Which shines from this 
A tender look of love 
A glance of God 
And while harsh bright lights move on
Leaving behind
The jagged edges of unfulfilled dreams
And unsatisfied desires 
This tender glow, glows on 
And the glance of love will linger 
With a warmth that invades the soul 
This gift of God
A blessing freely given
For this and every moment
Eternity encompassing today. 
This is our God 
Whose gaze digs deep 
Beneath our masks 
Into the furrows of our soul 
Who sees and knows
And does not seek
The price our world has asked

But stretches out an open hand 
To find hidden glitter in the gutters 
To let us know 
That whenever we are hidden 
Behind wars of words or weapons
Behind tales of economic growth or gloom
Behind powerlessness and politics 
Here too 
We are worth the pain 
Of names 
Carved deep into nail-scarred palms. 
And so I seek
With trusting hope
This my God
Who reaches out across time and space

Who fulfils in unexpected ways 
The hopes of days long past 
And the promise of a future not yet born.